Created By: VampireBuddhaJuly 8, 2009
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Divided For Publication

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You've written a long book. Lots of characters, many Plot Threads, and deep, complex Character Development. Your publisher likes it, but unfortunately, you're not a very well-known writer, and readers aren't likely to pick up such a vast novel.

The solution? Split the book into multiple volumes. The public will be less intimidated by the shorter length of the individual volumes, and thus more likely to buy them. In addition, it's possible to price the books so that buying all the volumes costs more than a single-volume edition would cost, which means more money. This may also happen if the book is being translated into another language.

If the book proves successful, it will probably be later released in a single-volume edition.

Note that this isn't for series of books which tell a single story; it's only for stories which were submitted as single books, which were then split into more than one at the publisher's request.
Examples:
  • The Lord Of The Rings was famously split into three volumes for publication, and in fact to this day is commonly (and erroneously) referred to as a trilogy.
  • Similarly, the Illuminatus! trilogy was originally pitched as one book, but split into three to have some hope of actually being read.
  • Succession was split into two volumes, The Risen Empire and Killing of Worlds. Confusingly, the book was published as a single volume in the UK, under the title The Risen Empire.
  • The UK edition of A Storm Of Swords was split into two volumes, Steel and Snow and Blood and Gold. The French edition was even worse, splitting it into no less than four volumes - and, in fact, the French translations of all the A Song Of Ice And Fire books are split into at least two volumes. Several other translations also split the books in various ways.
  • The first two Wheel Of Time books were split in half as part of a 'young adult special edition'. This doesn't seem to have done too well, as none of the other books were split.
  • The Nights Dawn trilogy was split into six books for the American release.
  • Clive Barker's Imajica was split into two volumes.
  • Tale Of Genji, due to its sheer length, is frequently divided into two volumes.
  • The Finnish translation of the Memory Sorrow And Thorn trilogy was split into no less than twelve volumes.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • July 8, 2009
    Morven
    CJ Cherryh's Chanur series, where the middle three of the five novels were one novel split into three to satisfy publishing constraints; they form one story arc, with no mini-resolution at the end of each. Although I think they've been published together in an omnibus since, they've never been printed as Cherryh really intended, as one novel.

    Also, the same author's Cyteen was published in mass-market paperback form as three novels, although it was released in hardback and "trade paperback" form as a single work.
  • July 8, 2009
    random surfer
    He wasn't an unknown at the time, but Stephen King's The Green Mile was published a few chapters at a time, then in a complete volume.
  • July 8, 2009
    Micah
    The Victorian three-volume novel isn't actually an example of this (they were always intended to be printed that way; if anything, authors would pad their novels to make them fill out three volumes), but I think it's worth mentioning as a forerunner.

    Also, do we have the Sister Trope, where a book or series expands while being written?

  • July 9, 2009
    Unknown%20Troper
    Does it have to be for books? Quentin Tarantino originally wanted Kill Bill one movie, but then decided to break it up into two parts.
  • July 9, 2009
    JethroQWalrustitty
    The movie Che about the life of Guerilla leader Ernesto 'Che' Guevara had to be divided into two parts.
  • July 9, 2009
    Duncan
    Inverted with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which was intended to be in the style of the Victorian Three-Volume Novel, but ended up as one giant-ass book.
  • July 9, 2009
    VampireBuddha
    Micah: Trilogy Creep?

    UT 216: I think that was a decision reached while the film was still being written. Now, if it was presented as a single film but the distributor cut it in half, then it would be an example.
  • July 9, 2009
    Micah
    That's not quite what I was thinking of, though they seem to be lumped at the moment. Trilogy Creep is "I've got this finished trilogy; let's tack on extra installments", while my thing is "I thought this was a trilogy when I started writing it, but I've written fifteen books and I've only gotten to where I thought the second book would end."
  • July 9, 2009
    Kahsm
    The Final Wheel Of Time book has been split into three books (not released yet). Check out Brandon Sanderson's blog for details. He was the one commissioned to write it since Robert Jordan died.
  • July 9, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Maybe related Video game example under One Game For The Price Of Two: Starcraft 2's single player campaign will be released between three games, one for each race.
  • July 9, 2009
    Micah
    I thing the final Wheel Of Time book is my Sister Trope-that-might-or-might-not-be-Trilogy Creep, not this, as Sanderson made the decision before finishing the manuscript.
  • July 9, 2009
    Ironeye
    In a weird case, The Belgariad was originally intended to be a trilogy, with the three volumes named Garion, Ce'Nedra, and Torak after three key characters in the story. The author was asked to split the story into five parts instead of three, resulting in the series as we know it. This is noticeable starting in the second book:
    • The climax of the second section (of three) in the second book is the climax of the main character's development up to that point.
    • The final section of the second book is a mostly self-contained episode in the story, but it sets up the quest that takes all of the third book (which ends on a Cliffhanger) and that isn't properly resolved until early in the fourth.
    • The second half of the fourth book and all of the fifth book function together as a single unit, with most of the main character's subplot in the fourth book and almost all of The Aragorn's subplot in the fifth book.
  • July 10, 2009
    HarmsWay2
    There are also some practical reasons for dividing a book into volumes. For one, it's easier to hold and carry. Two, it places less physical stress on the bindings, so smaller books are less prone to fall apart while the consumer is still reading them. There are also some economic issues in that the large page count has a higher per-volume production and transport cost, so it makes sense to divide that out to maintain a reasonable profit margin and/or price point.
  • July 10, 2009
    random surfer
    Several classic Doorstoppers (such as Oliver Twist) were originally published in newspapers one chapter at a time.
  • July 10, 2009
    Pinata
    Another Clive Barker example: Books Of Blood.
  • July 11, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Name of the wind, Rothfuss wrote the whole story over 14 years, submitted it, then publisher says make it a trilogy, so he has to rewrite it yet again
  • July 11, 2009
    RobinZimm
    The serial novel is a separate trope - this is where the publisher looks at a doorstopper and says, "it's good, but too long for one book".

    Ursula Vernon of Digger fame had a Web Serial Novel called "Black Dogs" which is making the jump to print in two parts - as of mid-2009, only Part One is out.
  • July 12, 2009
    dotchan
  • July 23, 2009
    VampireBuddha
    Bump. Will launch tomorrow.
  • July 23, 2009
    Frank75
    The Wheel Of Time was split into 31 volumes in Germany (which correspond to the first 11 books + the prequel). As if there weren't enough of them yet...

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